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Monday, May 12, 2008

Pelican Dives on Woman's Face

Last Saturday it was reported that a woman in the water off Treasure Island, Florida got hit in the face with a pelican as it dove on some fish. The pelican died and the woman had to get 20 stitches. We tend to worry about what's under the water, sharks, rays, jellyfish, sea urchins, etc. Now we have to start thinking about what's over the water.

I don't know about you, but I've seen brown pelicans and gannets dive and I would not want to be hit in the face with one. Gannets, a related species to the pelican, have been known to reach speeds of 60 mph while diving. They have reinforced skulls to better survive the impacts. Pelicans are in the same order, and not all pelican species plunge dive. Still, they have even bigger bills than gannets and can attain larger sizes. Some pelicans, according to Wikipedia, can weigh as much as 33 lbs and have a wing span of over 11'.

I think the bird that hit the woman was probably a brown pelican (avg. size 6 lbs; wing span of 6') and not the pink-backed pictured above.

-seabgb

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